GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Whether it’s the little ones heading off to kindergarten for the first time or the teens tackling year one of high school, students aren’t the only ones who could use a little help getting the new school year ahead off to a great start. Emory Wyckoff, Principal of Ridge Park Charter Academy, heads up a free public charter school operated by National Heritage Academies. He has some tips to help parents get their kids off to a great start.
Parent jitters: how to ease them
Students are not the only ones nervous on the first day of school. Whether it is a kindergartener or a middle school student in a new school, parents are often more nervous than their child. Some ways parents can help calm their own jitters include:
- Listen and learn your child’s concerns or fears and see if they are similar to yours. Detect if they are true fears or just nerves, offer positive thoughts to help calm the first day anxiety.
- Connect with your child’s teacher. Teachers know that the first day brings anxiety for everyone and you are probably not the first parent to have a concern. Teachers often can help ease everyone’s anxiety through communication, classroom updates, or words of wisdom.
- Try and give personal example of an experience you had with this as a teacher/principal.
- Make friends! Meet other parents, have someone you can talk to regarding your jitters. Plan to grab coffee with a fellow parent after first day drop-off. Talking about your jitters out loud with another parent can help you realize that your fears and anxieties are common and may be shared by fellow parents.
- Practice non-anxious communication with your child. Even if you are feeling nervous, try to talk calmly and positively.
- Reinforce your confidence in your child. “I am so excited for you, this school year is going to be great, I am proud of you!”
Paperwork, forms, & supplies
The weeks leading up to the first day of school are a great time for parents to think about their involvement in their child’s education. Parental involvement means more than just donating cookies or chaperoning a field trip. There are many ways for parents to be fully involved in their child’s education.
The first week of school means a lot of forms, permission slips, notes, and sign ups. Even though the paperwork may feel overwhelming, it is important to fill out all paperwork from your school. Many forms are required by the state and are important for the safety of all students.
Ease into back to school supply shopping. Whether you need clothes, shoes, lunch boxes or school supplies, take it one step at a time. Start shopping a week or two in advance so that everything is not all done in one day. Sometimes taking one child at a time can help calm stress and give parents and their children some one-on-one time before the school year begins.
Parent volunteers are vital to a school’s success and can also help keep your child engaged and excited. When children see their parents having fun at school activities and committing to their education, it makes them want to succeed even more!
When parents are engaged in their child’s education and school life, they can understand the child’s friendships, fears, strengths, and weaknesses.
Opportunities to get involved include:
- Field trip chaperone
- Classroom volunteer
- Attending school events (concerts, science fairs, sporting events)
- Other opportunities, that may not come to mind right away, but can be beneficial include:
- Regularly attending parent/teacher conferences, curriculum nights, and parent information meetings
- Reading school communication thoroughly and in a timely manner
- Checking your child’s homework (not doing it, checking in on progress)
Ridge Park Charter Academy
4120 Camelot Ridge Dr. SE
Grand Rapids, MI